The news from Washington over the weekend was that President Obama and Afghanistan’s President Ha-mad Karzai have hit on a rapid withdrawal plan for American troops, one which may mean virtually all Americans are home by sometime in 2014.
Let’s see, then. Does that mean we will have won that 11-year skirmish, or does it mean we will pretend it didn’t happen?
The good news is that we have killed Osama bin Laden and many other al Qaeda big fish, so in that respect we have achieved our initial objective, to exact revenge for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on American properties by suicide al Qaeda airplane pilots.
But to me, there’s a question: Could we have accomplished that feat without invading Iraq and Afghanistan?
If not, then should we have gone all out and conquered those nations and made them American fiefdoms, completely overseeing the remaking of them as we did Japan and West Germany?
To do that would have required far more of a commitment of personnel, equipment and expendibles than we made in either Iraq or Afghanistan.
It also would have required us to be less sensitive to the religious aspects of those conflicts. Murderers are murder- ers, regardless of what religious beliefs they use to try to excuse inexcusable behavior, such as turning their own children into suicide bombers.
Afghanistan may become an al Qaeda sanctuary after we leave, with that criminal conspiracy protected by the Taliban if it once again takes over. Without the U.S. presence, Afghanistan could become barely functional, just as it was under Taliban rule.
With any luck, Afghan troops will be able to protect the Afghan government and its people against another fall into chaos. With little or no luck, however, Afghanistan will be barely inhabitable.